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Alton High School & Alton Middle School

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Alton Athletics

Alton High School & Alton Middle School

Alton Athletics

Alton High School & Alton Middle School

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3 weeks ago

COLLEGE SOCCER: The next step - AdVantageNews - 11/15/2018

COLLEGE SOCCER: The next step

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Photo by Theo Tate

Alton seniors Megan Zini and Alaina Nasello pose after signing their letters of intent to play soccer for the University of Springfield and Oakland (Mich.) University next year.

For the last three years, Alaina Nasello and Megan Zini have helped the Alton girls soccer team become a successful program.

Next year, they look to turn in strong showings in the college level.

The Alton seniors signed letters of intent on Nov. 14 to play in schools that are 466 miles from each other. Zini will play for the University of Illinois at Springfield, while Nasello will join the Oakland (Mich.) University women's soccer program. The signings took place at the Alton High auditorium.

Oakland is an NCAA Division I school that is located in Rochester Hills, Mich., a suburb north of Detroit. UIS competes in the Division II level.

"It's great for us to sign on the same day, especially since we're friends and we're on the same soccer team," Nasello said. "It's really special for us."

Nasello will be playing for an Oakland program that won four matches this fall. The Golden Grizzlies are coached by Juan Pablo Favero.

"We were playing there for a game and they saw me and they said, 'We saw you play and we liked how you play,'" said Nasello, a midfielder. "I went up and visited the college. It's very pretty. It's such a beautiful campus. Their program is very good, too. I can't wait to go up there and help them out."

Oakland competes in the Horizon League and plays teams such as Cleveland State University, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Youngstown State University.

"Since I was little, I wanted to play on D-1," Nasello said.

Zini said she's thrilled that she will continue her soccer career at her home state.

"It's close to home and I love the university," she said. "It's small and I love my coach and I love a lot of the girls on the team when I went down there. I just felt at home."

Zini will play for a UIS team that won three matches this year after getting nine victories the year before. The Prairie Stars compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and are coached by Erin Egolf.

Zini will be reunited with Makayla Cox, a 2018 Alton graduate who played her freshman season at UIS this fall.

"It's very exciting to know that my athletic career is taking me to the next step," Zini said. "It's proving to myself that I can do it and I can be brought up to the next level."

Nasello and Zini have played with the Alton varsity program since they were freshmen. They helped the Redbirds finish with winning seasons in each of the last three years, including an 11-7-1 mark last spring.  Before they joined the program, the Redbirds were coming off a four-win campaign in '15.

Nasello is a two-time all-Southwestern Conference performer with 17 goals and 15 assists. Zini, a defender, earned Most Valuable Player honors in the Nike Division of the Metro Cup in her sophomore year.

"These two girls are going to be key players on this year's team that has the potential to be very successful," said Jeff Hayes, who recently resigned as Alton girls soccer coach, in a statement. "I'll miss watching them play every day. But more so I will miss spending time with them and watching them grow as young women."

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Photo by Theo Tate

Alton senior Megan Zini signs her letter of intent to play soccer for the University of Illinois Springfield while her parents look on.

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Photo by Theo Tate

Alton senior Alaina Nasello signs her letter of intent to play soccer for Oakland (Mich.) University.


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